Among the regions of Armenia, the Lori Region is the leader in the level of atmospheric emissions. According to the data for 2016, 51,231.5 tons of harmful substances were emitted into the atmosphere from static sources of emissions in Lori. None of these sources were filtered. In total in 2016, the amount of substances emitted into the atmosphere from static sources in Armenia came to 131.8 thousand tons. Out of these emissions 33.8% was trapped. Sulphur dioxide made up 29.4%, or 38.7 thousand tons, out of all the harmful substances emitted into the atmosphere.
In Lori, the air basin is polluted with sulphur dioxide by the Alaverdi Copper Smelting Plant which is operated by ACP, a part of the Vallex Company Group. Between 2005-2007, the company experimentally operated a gas neutralization station; nevertheless, this option was considered by the company to be non-expedient both in economic and environmental terms. The company has refused using sulphuric acid, considering it to be economically non-feasible. As a solution to this problem, the company has moved the chimney of Alaverdi Copper Smelting Plant from an absolute height of 780 m. to an absolute height of 1078 m, which has resulted in an increase in the radius of pollution of the air basin. Now, sulphur dioxide spreading in the surrounding forests and villages in Odzun, Hagvi, Aqori, and Haghpat.
“I am concerned by the fact that the Alaverdi Copper Smelting Plant continues in its traditional way, ensuring high levels of pollution. The Alaverdi Copper Smelting Plant keeps on telling us they don’t work at a profit or work at a zero profit. Anyway, they should think about working with new technologies and try to pollute the environment as little as possible; particularly the air basin. We agree not to receive any environmental fee so as not to have such levels of atmospheric pollution. Bee swarms suffer; nature suffers, and, most importantly, people suffer. The environmental fee is low compared with the damage caused,” Armine Mikayelyan, Deputy Head of the Odzun community, said to EcoLur.
It should be mentioned that according to the US Disease Control and Prevention Centers, sulphur dioxide is one of the factors which may lead to foetal death, premature childbirth, miscarriages, and still-born babies. The pollution of the atmospheric air with sulphur dioxide also affects the Debed River, as found out by Senior Researcher of the Institute of Geological Sciences of NAS RA Marine Nalbandyan, an expert at the ICP Waters International Cooperative Programme, as a result of her research.